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HOT DAYS COMPOUND WATER WOES IN LEHI

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Lehi residents may have to take up dry farming if the city's water woes aren't cured soon.

As of Tuesday, one of the city's reservoirs had serious problems, mostly attributed to the dry year, just as residents are coming on strong with their irrigation use. Canal flows aren't what the city expected and temporarily the city has limited pressure, according to Lorin Powell, city engineer.The Lehi City offices were inundated with calls Tuesday when sprinkling systems to water yards and gardens didn't work. Powell said the city has ordered more water to temporarily take care of critical needs of the pressurized irrigation system.

The long-term problem is causing the biggest concern.

"The water that normally comes out of Dry Creek is mostly depleted and that is where Lehi City gets a good share of its water for the month of June," Powell said. "The hot days have compounded the problem. Everybody has been using water more heavily than normal."

The current problem does not affect culinary water in the city, only irrigation water.

Two proposed new city wells would help the shortage. But those wells are being protested by a few residents concerned about losing their own well water. City officials said the protest is seriously affecting the city's ability to provide needed water this summer.

According to the state engineer's office, protests have been received from Janeth, Nadine and Bonnie Evans, signed by Lynn Davidson, their authorized agent; by Michael J. and Norene F. Kopinsky; John C. and Carolyn Kopinsky; and John Hadfield and others.

"We have water rights on two wells that are over 75 years old. Anyone living in the county would be dumb not to protest," said Norene F. Kopinsky.

Kopinsky believes past city administrations have been poorly advised and have sold some of their water rights and annexed too much.

"I shouldn't have to pay for their foolish planning and lose water," she said. "And I know there are others in the county that feel that same way."

Kopinsky is concerned that city wells will be drilled 500 feet deep and will take water from their private wells. "Our well-driller told us that at the rate they're drilling wells the water would soon be gone."

A hearing on the protest must be held before the state engineer's office. City officials said that means more hot days without irrigation water.

The engineer's office must first give 10 days' notice inviting applicants and protesters to the hearing and give them an opportunity to raise concerns, said Kent Jones, assistant state engineer for appropriations.

"We don't make any decisions at those hearings. We take that information and review it and do additional studies and then take action," Jones said. "Studies can vary from a few weeks to several months depending on the investigation."

A hearing date on the Lehi protest has not been scheduled. Jones believes it won't be until sometime in late July.

"We're in a very, very difficult situation," Powell said. "We've requested an expedited hearing."

For now, the city is quickly working on another well that will be on line in just over a month.

Because the well sources, which could have been on line, are being protested, Mayor Bill Gibbs and the City Council have issued a notice to users of Lehi pressurized irrigation water requesting voluntary conservation.

"If we had a well in service we wouldn't have the problem we have now," said Gibbs. "This water is needed to stabilize the city."

Powell said, "It affects our entire area and fire is a major concern. We're still not sure about rationing. For right now we are asking residents to police themselves."

This coupled with the sewer system being at capacity is causing major problems for the city, Powell said. Water supplies to residents in the area of the old airport and on the North Bench are particularly limited.